Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

International aid can’t arrive soon enough for the Central African Republic by Washington Post: “More than 630,000 people in a nation of 4.5 million have fled their homes, and tens of thousands are living in miserable and dangerous conditions at the airport in Bangui, the capital, or in other improvised camps. Just 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops provide what passes for protection and order in a country where the state has collapsed. The U.N. force, which will consist of 10,000 troops and 2,000 police, is not due to deploy until September.”

U.N. Considering Sanctions Over South Sudan Massacre by AP: “The U.N. has said hundreds of civilians were killed in the massacre last week in Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity state. The top U.N. aid official in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, has said ‘piles and piles’ of bodies were left behind. Security Council members watched a video showing bodies lining a street and the interior of a mosque where civilians had sought shelter from rebel forces taking control from government troops amid ethnic tensions in the world’s newest country.”

Sacrament of Fiction: On Becoming a Writer and Not a Priest by Nick Ripatrazone: “I write for many of the same reasons that I wanted to become a priest. I want to bear witness to a sacramental vision. I want to admit my life as a sinner. Rather than judge others, I want to use empathy to sketch their imperfect lives on the page, and find the God that I know resides within them. Similar to the life of a priest, there is a space for silence in my writing life, but also a time of engagement with both reader and place.”

The Leadership Emotions by David Brooks: “Certain faculties that were central to amateur decision making — experience, intuition, affection, moral sentiments, imagination and genuineness — have been shorn down for those traits that we associate with professional tactics and strategy — public opinion analysis, message control, media management and self-conscious positioning.”

Does America need a raise? by Charles Clark: “Catholic social thought and its preferential option for the poor also offers strong support for increasing the minimum wage. The Catholic claim that workers deserve a just wage as a matter of justice, and not as charity, is based on the argument that wages should provide sufficient resources for meeting the material and spiritual needs of workers and their families. It is this teaching that the U.S. Catholic bishops have pointed to in their recent efforts to call on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage.”

The World’s Toughest Job by Amber Lapp: “In a mobile society where family is often far away and friends don’t have enough time to become much more than acquaintances before the next big move, how do parents manage? As Senior documents, parenting expectations and pressure are at an all-time high. And yet community support is at an all-time low. There is no village to raise the child. And parents are struggling with the demands.”

Working with the Vatican against modern slavery by John Kerry: “When we embrace our common humanity and stand up for the dignity of all people, we realize the vision of a world that is more caring and more just — a world free from slavery.”

Joint canonization encourages politicized Catholics to bridge divides by John Gehring and Kim Daniels: “If Catholics who vote differently lower our defenses and learn from each other, we can find common ground when it comes to urgent moral issues like poverty, abortion and immigration. If we speak together as Catholics first, we will offer an important and enriching voice to the American political conversation.”

Francis encountering curial opposition, cardinal says by Joshua McElwee: “”Expressions like ‘What can it be that this little Argentine pretends?’, or the expression of a well-known cardinal who let slip the phrase, ‘We made a mistake,’ can be heard,” Rodríguez said, making an apparent reference to a cardinal who regrets the selection of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as pope.”

The Case for Divorce Reform by William J. Doherty: “Modest, common-sense divorce reform is something all Americans can support.”

Pope John saw off the prophets of gloom by Cardinal Turkson: “Pope John XXIII locates peace in the dignity of every human person and in persons in relationship – where justice governs relationships and people embrace the dignity of every person, there peace begins to reign.”

Sharing the Vision of Saint John XXIII by Randall Rosenberg: “John XXIII significantly broadened the Catholic imaginary, and this broadening is illuminated by the metaphor of friendship. He helped to reframe in significant ways the Church’s relationship to modern economic, political, social, and cultural developments; the way we think about the papacy in more evangelical and less bureaucratic terms (along with a healthy dose of humor); the way we tacitly understand our relationship to other Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc.; the way we think about social justice in global terms; the way, indeed, we think about the church in global terms. At the heart of his deepening of the Catholic imaginary, I suggest, is his loving, yet critical, friendship with the modern world.”

A Catholic push for a higher wage by Richard Trumka and J. Cletus Kiley: “Economic policy making that keeps with the Catholic tradition prioritizes those who struggle the most. The Fair Minimum Wage Act set to be debated by Congress this month is a common-sense proposal that will help working families, expand the middle class and reflect our nation’s best values.”


Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “When this love fails – because many times it fails – we have to feel the pain of the failure, [we must] accompany those people who have had this failure in their love. Do not condemn. Walk with them.”


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Truth and Truthiness by Patrick Manning: “If we want our students to seek Christ with their whole selves, we must engage them in the fullness of their being—heart, mind and will. St. Augustine long ago offered a formula for doing just this: delight the heart, instruct the mind, persuade the will. Stephen Colbert has demonstrated that this formula is still effective in our own time.”

The Art of Presence by David Brooks: “We have a tendency, especially in an achievement-oriented culture, to want to solve problems and repair brokenness — to propose, plan, fix, interpret, explain and solve. But what seems to be needed here is the art of presence — to perform tasks without trying to control or alter the elemental situation.”

I Have Seen the Future of the Republican Party, and It Is George W. Bush by Jonathan Chait: “A Republican Party that reprises the Bush era was a grim and unfathomable prospect in 2008, and is not exactly palatable now. But in the wake of the party’s thrall to Ayn Rand and Rand Paul and Paul Ryan, a return to Bushism sounds almost comforting.”

Number of Darfur’s Displaced Surged in 2013 by NY Times: “An estimated 400,000 people fled violence afflicting the Darfur region of Sudan last year, more than the number of those displaced in the previous two years combined, the top United Nations peacekeeping official said Thursday in an appraisal that suggested the decade-old conflict there had taken a turn for the worse.”

The Populist Imperative by Paul Krugman: “A new Pew poll finds an overwhelming majority of Americans — and 45 percent of Republicans! — supporting government action to reduce inequality, with a smaller but still substantial majority favoring taxing the rich to aid the poor. And this is true even though most Americans don’t realize just how unequally wealth really is distributed.”

Silence, Outsider: The Catholic Internet, Donatism, and the Medicine of the Eucharistic Life by Timothy O’Malley: “The Catholic conversation presently operating on the internet tends toward its own self-confident (even prideful) Donatism.   There are communities of Catholics online who stand above the Church and articulate criteria that they believe essential to being Catholic.   They then apply these criteria (apart from the actual, existing Church of bishops and councils and the sensus fidelium) to universities, to parishes, to priests or bishops or popes whom they find do not conform to such criteria.”

Supporting the Euromaidan Movement in Ukraine by Cardinal Timothy Dolan: “We Catholics in the United States cannot let these brave Ukrainians, whose allegiance to their religious convictions has survived ‘dungeon, fire, and sword,’ languish.  They deserve our voices and our prayers.”

What presidents really believe about God by Michael Beschloss: “Lady Bird Johnson told me decades later that her husband had found such comfort in the Catholic Church and ‘Luci’s little monks’ that she had once thought it only a matter of time before LBJ became a converted Catholic himself.”

‘Cold call’ pope strikes again by John Allen: “One more was added to the record Friday, as the Italian paper Corriere della Sera reported that Francis called an Italian woman named Filomena Claps on Monday evening, reaching her at her husband’s bedside in a hospital in the city of Potenza.”

More Imperfect Unions by Ross Douthat: “So one hypothetical middle ground on marriage promotion might involve wage subsidies and modest limits on unilateral divorce, or a jobs program and a second-trimester abortion ban.”

It’s cardinal v. cardinal on divorced and remarried Catholics by John Allen: “A rift has seemingly opened between two cardinals with significant Vatican influence, as the head of the pope’s Council of Cardinals has suggested that the Vatican’s doctrinal czar needs to be more ‘flexible’ in his views on divorced and remarried Catholics.”

Greed Is Not Good: The Social Usefulness of Progressive Public Policy by Charles Reid Jr.: “Progressives must never abandon appeals to fairness and concern for the vulnerable when advocating on behalf of sound public policies. But we must also bear in mind that many in our audience have been conditioned, through years of exposure to appeals that pander to the selfish side of human nature, to ask what a particular policy can do for them.”

A New Gilded Age Threatens The State Of Our Union by Howard Fineman: “Study after study shows that we are in the midst of a new Gilded Age, in which a yawning, gold-plated gap between the richest and the rest of us risks collapsing the American ideal of fair play and democracy itself.”


A Kairos Moment for Mercy for Divorced and Remarried Catholics?

Yesterday the full English-language transcript was released of Pope Francis’ Q&A with reporters aboard the papal plane on the way back from World Youth Day in Brazil.  Many have focused on the way he discussed gay people, including his line “Who am I to judge them?” and his use of the term of ‘gay’.  Some on the political left found little to be excited about in the remarks and downplayed their significance.  Many conservatives meanwhile are still choosing to argue that Francis is offering nothing new and seem irritated that he is getting good reviews from the secular press.

The initial reaction that both my husband and I had is that the most important part of the press conference might not have been his remarks on gay people, bur rather his statement on the pastoral care of divorced and remarried Catholics, including the question of whether or not such persons should be free to receive the sacrament of communion at any point.

Pope Francis is transforming perceptions of the Church through the change in tone and focus that have marked his papacy. It remains unclear whether or not a change in policy in regard to the pastoral approach to divorced and remarried Catholics will occur, but certainly this is among the most plausible and transformative changes that could take place.

This delicate issue has already led a number of bishops to ponder possible changes to this aspect of pastoral care, including those often labeled theological “conservatives.” The bishops have seen the deep wounds that have been caused by the denial of communion to those who are divorced and remarried. Most of us in the West have also witnessed that pain and suffering, that sense of alienation.  Meanwhile, our Orthodox brothers and sisters, as Pope Francis noted, have chosen an alternative approach, one that avoids shortcuts, yet is animated by mercy.

Of course, as Pope Francis says, it’s complicated.  The preeminent concern in altering these policies is that it would weaken the Church’s commitment to the indissolubility of marriage.

The reality is that the Church’s position on marriage has often not been demanding enough, as it has too frequently promoted “traditional marriage” instead of insisting upon Christ’s vision of one-flesh marriage. The commitment to permanence is even stronger in the latter, since communion in and through God is the ultimate objective.

So can Christ’s vision of marriage be reconciled with allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion? The fundamental question is: would Christ deny these persons a seat at the Lord ’s table? Pope Francis appears to be alluding to this ultimate standard when he speaks about this being a “kairos moment for mercy.”

But can this commitment to mercy and forgiveness, based on a recognition of the frailty of the human person, coexist with a firm, robust commitment to one-flesh marriage?  Let us hope and pray that the eight members of the Council of Cardinals, who will meet to discuss this issue (among others), find a path forward so that we can end the alienation felt by far too many of our brothers and sisters in Christ who in the wake of personal mistakes are earnestly desiring and striving for greater communion.